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UWE look to diversity with Future Quest

The scheme, which has received its 2017-18 launch, aims to encourage more young people to attend university

Posted by Julian Owen | November 29, 2017 | Students

A programme encouraging more people from diverse backgrounds to go to university has already benefited 2,500 students in Bristol.

Working with pupils from Year 9 and supporting them through to Year 13, Future Quest seeks to address the under-representation of young people from diverse backgrounds by supporting them year-on-year through their studies and introducing them to a range of activities that address barriers to accessing higher education.

Activities to date have included visits to local universities, the Aerospace Bristol museum and Clifton Suspension Bridge, to help young people improve their ‘cultural capital’. At the same time, workshops from the Speakers Trust are improving reading, writing and listening skills for groups of Year 9 and Year 10 students.

Student Kieran Williams, a Year 10 pupil at Oasis Academy Brightstowe in south Bristol, is among the young people on the programme being led by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).

He has developed confidence in public speaking with a session at the Speakers Trust and has benefitted from a visit to Clifton Suspension Bridge, where he and fellow pupils learned about its history, construction and even had a rare opportunity to view the bridge’s vaults.

Kieran said: “I enjoy being a part of Future Quest because it gives us new life skills that we can use throughout life. I’m really happy to be continuing with the programme until Year 13 because I feel there’s lots more I can learn which can benefit me and my future plans.”

Future Quest’s 2017-18 programme was officially launched at UWE Bristol’s Exhibition and Conference Centre on 8 November). The formal reception brought together a range of educational partners in Bristol, plus keynote speakers from the local council and both of the city's universities, to officially launch a programme of work which this year will benefit two further schools, Henbury School and St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School. The event celebrated the Future Quest programme to date, its students, activities and the programme’s city-wide reach. Speakers included Camilla Chandler-Mant, Chief Executive of South Bristol Youth, and Jo Midgley, UWE Bristol Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience).

This year, the programme is expected to offer experiences and opportunities to 5,000 young people aged between 13 and 19 in the most deprived parts of the city and South Gloucestershire, by bringing together organisations from across the area to support progression to higher education.

Future Quest is a consortium project led by UWE Bristol and including the University of Bristol, South Bristol Youth, South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS), City of Bristol College, Bristol Learning City and the Local Enterprise Partnership. 

Through a targeted programme of activity and interventions, it is aimed at making progress towards meeting the Government’s goals to:

 - Double the proportion of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in higher education by 2020

 - Increase by 20 per cent the number of students in higher education from ethnic minority groups

 - Address the under-representation of young men from disadvantaged backgrounds in higher education

'Activities to date have included visits to local universities, the Aerospace Bristol museum and Clifton Suspension Bridge, to help young people improve their ‘cultural capital’.' 

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Our ambition for Bristol is to become a place where someone’s background doesn’t define their chances of success, so this step towards greater inclusivity at UWE Bristol is very welcome. By raising aspirations and improving access to higher education we can help empower young people to achieve their potential. This will ultimately help to improve social mobility, which is one of the key reasons we set up the Learning City partnership in Bristol.”

Future Quest is part of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP), a government initiative to address low participation of students living in particular wards who have the capacity - based on GCSE results - to go into higher education, but where there is a lower than expected take up of higher education. 

Funded by HEFCE, the NCOP aims to support the most disadvantaged young people in England to progress into higher education, whether through traditional degrees, Foundation degrees, Higher and Degree apprenticeships, Higher National Diplomas or Higher National Certificates.

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